Masters Programs

MA programs are those taken in all fields of human geography. MSc programs are those taken in physical geography, spatial information systems and some areas of environmental studies.

All MA students must complete the Human Geography Core Course (GGR1105H) and all MSc students must complete the Physical Geography Core Course (GGR1200H). Students have the option of completing a master’s thesis or a major research paper (MRP).

Progress into the second session is dependent on achieving an overall B average in the first session and maintaining satisfactory progress as outlined in the SGS Calendar General Regulations. The department may recommend termination of a student’s registration if they have failed to maintain satisfactory progress.

Timeline to Completion

Master’s degree programs usually take one to two calendar years to complete; the average time to completion is 1.7 years. The maximum time limit is three years.

All coursework should be completed within 8 months of initial registration. Time taken to complete the research and writing of the thesis or MRP varies depending on numerous factors, including whether the research requires ethics approval, conducting interviews or gaining permission to access archival materials, and whether the research involves extensive fieldwork or lengthy experiments. The timeline below is a guide for completing within the 1 year that the program is funded. Students can register in a second year as necessary to continue research and writing activities.

Suggested Thesis Timeline

Year 1 (September-April): Coursework
Year 1 (September – May): Submit a research proposal to supervisor (no later than March 1); Ethics approval should be obtained if necessary; Research
Year 1 (May-August): Writing
Year 1 (August-early September): Defense and final submission of thesis. Deadline for completion to avoid registration for the subsequent year is normally the second week of September.

Suggested MRP Timeline

Year 1 (September-April): Coursework
Year 1 (Jan – May): Submit a research proposal to supervisor (no later than May 15). Ethics approval should be obtained if necessary.
Year 1 (April-July): Research
Year 1 (July-August): Writing
Year 1 (August-early September): Defense and final submission of MRP. Deadline for completion to avoid registration for the subsequent year is normally the second week of September.

Thesis Option

Students enrolled in a Master’s Thesis Option are required to complete the requirements below.

Coursework: Completion of 3 half-credit courses (or 1.5 FCEs), including:
• the core course (GGR1105H for MA and GGR1200H for MSc)
• one half-credit course in geography or from an approved list
• one half-credit course in any subject
• students enrolled in a collaborative specialization should the Collaborative Specializations page for any additional requirements

Research Proposal: Submission of a research proposal to their supervisor by March 1 of their first year. The proposal should be 2500 to 4000 words and include the following:
• Outline of the topic/research question
• Literature review
• Methodology
• Timeline for completion of research/data collection, writing and final defense of the thesis or major research paper

Annual Report: Students who register in a second year and beyond are required to meet with their supervisor by the end of September to review their activities over the summer and set out a timeline for the year. A report form must be completed at this meeting and submitted to the graduate office.

Thesis: Students are required to complete a thesis (RST9999Y) which must be presented and defended at a departmental oral examination before a committee of at least two graduate faculty members (one of which must be from geography) in addition to the supervisor(s). Theses typically are approximately 100 pages and represent the result of independent research under the direction of a faculty supervisor. For MSc students, the thesis must be science-based. Once any final revisions or modifications have been made and confirmed in writing by the supervisor(s), the final thesis must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies and to the department. Information on formatting, electronic submission and copyright is available at the SGS website.

The thesis must be provided to the examination committee 2-4 weeks prior to the examination date. The graduate office must be notified of the exam details 2 weeks prior to the examination date (See: Scheduling a Masters Thesis MRP Exam). The graduate office will prepare the examination file that can be collected by the supervisor just before the exam to be returned immediately following the exam.

Major Research Paper Option

Students enrolled in a Master’s Major Research Paper Option are required to complete the requirements below.

Coursework: Completion of 6 half-credit courses (or 3.0 FCEs), including:
• the core course (GGR1105H for MA and GGR1200H for MSc)
• three half-credit courses in geography or from an approved list
• one half-credit course which must be taken outside the department
• one half-credit course in any subject
• students enrolled in a collaborative specialization should consult section 5 for any additional requirements

Research Proposal: Submission of a research proposal to their supervisor by May 15 of their first year. The proposal should be 2500 to 4000 words and include the following:
• Outline of the topic/research question
• Literature review
• Methodology
• Timeline for completion of research/data collection, writing and final defense of the thesis or major research paper

Annual Report: Students who register in a second year and beyond are required to meet with their supervisor by the end of September to review their activities over the summer and set out a timeline for the year. A report form must be completed at this meeting and submitted to the graduate office.

Major Research Paper: Students are required to complete a major research paper (GGR1100Y), typically about 40-50 pages, which must be presented and defended at a departmental oral examination before a committee of at least two graduate faculty members (at least one of which must be from geography) in addition to the supervisor(s). For MSc students, the research paper must be science-based. Once any final revisions or modifications have been made and confirmed in writing by the supervisor(s), an electronic copy of the final research paper must be submitted to the department. Information on formatting and copyright is available on the SGS website.

The MRP must be provided to the examination committee 2-4 weeks prior to the examination date. The graduate office must be notified of the exam details 2 weeks prior to the examination date. (See: Scheduling a Masters Thesis MRP Exam). The graduate office will prepare the examination file that can be collected by the supervisor just before the exam to be returned immediately following the exam.